Fruits and vegetables, in addition to being very healthy for the body, are beneficial for treating certain moods. A new study indicates that consuming it daily can fight stress.
Research conducted by Edith Cowan University and published in Clinical Nutritionrecommends incorporating at least half a pound of fruits and vegetables into your daily diet to reduce stress levels.
The study evaluated the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and stress levels in more than 8,600 Australians aged between 25 and 91 years who participated in the Baker Heart and Diabetes Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab).
The results showed that people who consumed about a pound of fruits and vegetables a day experienced 10% lower stress levels than those who consumed about a quarter of a pound a day.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation is at least 400 g of fruits and vegetables a day, which is equivalent to about five servings.
Lead PhD candidate Simone Radavelli-Bagatini of the Edith Cowan University Nutrition Research Institute said the study strengthens the link between diets rich in fruits and vegetables and contributes to mental well-being.
“We found that people who eat more fruits and vegetables are less stressed than those who eat less, suggesting that diet plays a key role in mental well-being.“Said Dr. Radavelli-Bagatini.
Stress and anxiety, a growing problem
Mental illness is a growing problem around the world. One in 10 people live with a mental health disorder.
According to Ms. Radavelli-Bagatini, some stress is considered normal, but long-term exposure can significantly affect mental health.
“Long-term, uncontrolled stress can lead to a variety of health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, depression and anxiety, so we must find ways to prevent and possibly alleviate mental health issues in the future.“Says Radavilli-Bagatini.
The benefits of a healthy diet based on fruits and vegetables are already known, but in Spain, for example, their consumption has decreased by more than 40% in the last 50 years. While in 1964 an average of 451g per person per day was consumed, that number has now been reduced to around 269g of vegetables.
“Previous studies have shown the link between fruit and vegetable consumption and stress in younger adults, but this is the first time we’ve seen similar results in adults of all ages.“According to Radavelli-Bagatini.
The study results emphasize that it is important for people to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to potentially minimize stress even in children.
Diet is the key to mood
The consumption of fruits and vegetables positively influences stress levels, but it is not yet known for sure which nutrients or compounds produce the effect.
Vegetables and fruits contain important nutrients like vitamins, minerals, flavonoids and carotenoids that can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress and therefore improve mental well-being.
Inflammation and oxidative stress are recognized factors that can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and moodiness.
These findings call for more research into diet and specifically which fruits and vegetables provide the most mental health benefits.
The research is part of Edith Cowan University’s recently launched Nutrition Research Institute, which aims to investigate how nutrition can help prevent and treat chronic health conditions.